I just finished Andrew Osmond’s Satoshi Kon: the illusionist. I recommend it for any Kon fan — it’s full of tidbits gleaned from Kon interviews (including an email interview done by Osmond), and discusses Kon’s works, Kon’s life, and Kon’s attitudes toward his own works. Osmond is a fan — he is a prominent poster on the Nausicaa-net mailing list back in the day — and he knows how to appreciate Kon’s works. Reading the book is like spending an afternoon with an articulate, film-literate friend talking about Kon’s films, with nary a whiff of cineaste pretentiousness.
The book has a chapter on Kon’s early life growing up in Hokkaido, and the way he more-or-less stumbled into working on anime; his early anime work (e.g., his collaborations with Katsuhiron Otomo on manga and anime (Kon worked on Roujin Z, and directed the memorable “Magnetic Rose” segment of Memories). Following that introduction, there come individual chapters on each of Kon’s films: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika plus a chapter on Paranoia Agent.
Each film- (or TV series-)centric chapter begins with a history of the work: its origins, how Kon came to create it, involvement with collaborators; this is followed by a synopsis of the film; then an analysis discussing how the film fits into the body of Kon’s work, how the film was received. Chapter side-bars give detailed descriptions of critical scenes (Osmond’s transcriptions from the film, these are not drawn from the scripts), a list of points of interest (production notes, linkages to other works, scenes and dialogue to make special note of).
The book is profusely illustrated with varying-quality screen-shots and high-quality reproductions of promotional material. One thing I wish was included: missing from the book are pages illustrating Kon’s detailed storyboards.
Reading the book is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon reflecting on Kon’s body of work. Osmond calls out details you may have missed, and articulates impressions you may only be vaguely aware of. I found the discussion of Paranoia Agent particularly helpful.